Saturday, December 27, 2008
Kidnapped Ateneo nursing student freed in Basilan
Freed Joed Anthony Pilangga reunites with his parents as Vice Governor Al-Rasheed Sakkalahul (left) looks on inside the Philippine Navy headquarters in Upper Calarian a day after the hostage's release on Christmas eve Wednesday in Basilan. Photo Courtesy WesMinCom PIO
Ateneo de Zamboanga University nursing student Joed Anthony Pilangga was freed on Christmas eve Wednesday by his kidnappers after more than two months of captivity in Basilan, a provincial government official said.
The 17-year old Pilangga was abandoned by his captors to the emissaries of Basilan Vice Governor Al-Rasheed Sakkalahul at around 9:20 p.m. at vicinity between the villages of Magkawa and Poblacion in Tipo-Tipo.
Sakkalahul, chairman of the Basilan's Crisis Management Committee (CMC) who negotiated for the release of Pilangga, said pressures from the military and police compelled the kidnappers to free the hostage.
He said following the release, his emissaries took Joed to his residence in Tipo-Tipo to rest overnight. The next day, he said he turned over the freed hostage to the 1st Marine Brigade in Tabiawan, Isabela City.
The vice governor did not give further details surrounding Pilangga's release, but hailed the combined military and police efforts that freed the kidnapped victim, and thanked his counterparts who helped him secure the release of the hostage.
It was not known whether any ransom was paid, although Pilangga's family earlier told media that they regularly turned over money to the kidnappers for Joed's "board and lodging" expenses.
The military said parents of Joed have declined a media presentation at the military's Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) headquarters.
"Please be informed that the parents of Joed have declined to be interviewed. I hope we can all symphatize with their plight. However, they have mentioned that the vice governor can speak on their behalf," said 1st Lt. Esteffani Caho, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, in a text message.
Cacho issued the statement after some members of the WesMinCom's Defense Press Corps complained that they were prevented by navy officials at the Naval Forces Western Mindanao headquarters from taking footage and photos of Pilangga.
Pilangga, however, answered media phone interviews. He said his captors treated him well and fed him fish, vegetables and noodles during his 68-day ordeal in the hinsterlands, but had threatened to kill him if they did not get the ransom.
The young Pilangga was reported missing October 17 by the city police until his parents broke their silence to say that their son was kidnapped in Zamboanga City and brought by his captors to Basilan province.
Abu Sayyaf was tagged by authorities as behind the kidnapping. The group is still holding 9-year old April Nicole Raviche, who was kidnapped Nov. 26 in Lamitan City and demanded P4 million for her freedom.